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Virginia Tech researchers contribute to turkey genome sequencing
Date:9/7/2010

rstanding of disease prevention and treatment."

According to Dalloul, the genome sequence will have long-term benefits for turkey producers as well. "Poultry producers may be able to use the knowledge we gain from the genome sequence to grow turkeys faster and healthier, and if they can produce the same size bird in a shorter period of time, they can also save money," he said. An improved understanding of genetic variation in this species and in breeding populations will also lead to development of new tools that producers can use to breed turkeys that have desirable texture, flavor, and leanness, which will directly impact consumer products.

In addition, the genome sequence may have applications in the biomedical field. Ed Smith, professor of animal and poultry sciences at Virginia Tech, is investigating an avian condition similar to dilated cardiomyopathy in humans. Other consortium members Roger Coulombe at Utah State University and Kent Reed at the University of Minnesota are studying the effects that aflatoxins have on turkeys. Aflatoxins are naturally occurring carcinogenic chemicals produced by fungi that suppress the immune system. The domesticated turkey is the most aflatoxin-susceptible species known.

Clive Evans, director of the Core Laboratory Facility at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI), said, "The availability of the Roche GS-FLX Titanium sequencing technology at VBI allowed the turkey research consortium to quickly and efficiently establish an early draft of the turkey genome." This draft was extended in 2009 with data from the Illumina sequencing platform at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service and assembled by scientists at the University of Maryland to produce the current genome assembly. The use of these next-generation sequencing technologies provided the turkey genome sequence assembly at a fraction of the cost of producing the red junglefowl genome assembly (the same species as the domesticated chicken
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Contact: Michael Sutphin
msutphin@vt.edu
540-231-6975
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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